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Quick Preview: Clippers look to stay alive against Nuggets

The Clippers look to stay alive in the playoff hunt Saturday afternoon against the Nuggets.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Picture

It’s officially do or die time for the Los Angeles Clippers. The loss in Utah the other night may have been the death knell for the Clippers’ playoff hopes for this season, but they haven’t yet been mathematically eliminated.

Here’s the deal. The Clippers are 10th in the West heading into Saturday’s action, two games adrift of Denver for ninth and 2.5 games back of Minnesota for the last playoff spot with just three games to play. The odds of the Clippers making up that ground are pretty much as bad as you can get, but they’re still living and breathing, at least for another afternoon.

LAC needs to win out, and they need plenty of help. The Nuggets are obviously in a desperate situation themselves, so we should get an entertaining, competitive game here today. The Clips have taken each of the previous two meetings in this series this season, so they already own a potential tiebreaker with Denver. A tiebreaker with the Nuggets has a slim chance of mattering in the end, but it’s still something worth noting.

As of now, the Jazz are fourth in the West, a game ahead of the Pelicans, Spurs and Thunder who are each 45-34. The Wolves are a half-game worse at 45-35. We have other massive games on tap for tonight, with the Thunder facing a tough test in Houston against the Rockets. The Spurs will take on the Blazers in San Antonio, while the Pels are in Oakland to tangle with the Warriors.

The Clippers are on the outside looking in as of right now, but their outlook could get a little rosier if a few things break their way this evening. Of course, none of that matters if they don’t get past the Nuggets this afternoon, so that’s obviously top priority. The Clippers don’t hold the tiebreaker over any of their playoff rivals, though they can earn the tiebreaker over the Pelicans with a head-to-head victory on Monday.

As for injury situations today, the Clips are still without Danilo Gallinari (hand), while the Nuggets are down Gary Harris (knee). Will Barton will presumably start for Harris, while the Clippers will to run back the short-handed starting group of DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Ty Wallace, Sindarius Thornwell and Tobias Harris.

Tip from Staples gets underway at 12:30 this afternoon. You can find the game locally on Prime Ticket or nationally on NBATV.